I spent approximately 10 hours in a dark, dank and echoing parking garage at Bloor and Bathurst last weekend.Now of course, you are probably thinking Emily, you are out of your mind?! and What in the heck could possibly compel you to do that to yourself on a beautiful summer weekend?!
And so, before the curiosity drives you wild, I will give you the simple answer to those questions: I was living life at the Fringe Festival. It’s an annual theatre extravaganza that takes place mainly in the Annex area. The headquarters are at Bloor and Bathurst, near the Toronto landmark Honest Ed’s. Basically a bunch of tents are set up, there’s a beer tent, and you can get tickets to any show currently playing from their main box office. And the best part is, every single show is only $10!
The festival began last weekend, and I checked out The Godot Cycle. Essentially, it was a production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot on loop, non-stop for a 30-hour existentialist marathon. The audience can pop in and out as they please (just hold onto your ticket) for the duration of the performance. (Beckett’s play is a bleak, existentialist tale that tells the story of two men who are trapped in a kind of purgatory with nothing to do other than to wait for the God-like figure “Godot.” SPOILER: Godot never shows up.)
The two lead actors never leave the stage, they don’t sleep, and they only eat in the five-ten minute breaks between acts. Let me tell you, the whole thing is an experience. I myself saw the performance in total 5 times, on Friday, 6pm; Saturday, 12am; Saturday, 2am; Saturday, 12pm; and Saturday, 11pm. They’re planning another marathon this weekend starting on Friday night, but this time the actors will be performing Beckett’s masterpiece for a total of 54 hours.(54 HOURS!)
But, my problem with festivals is always over-saturation. During Fringe Festival every year, I’m always just so overwhelmed that I can’t bring myself to see anything at all. As U of T students, though, we really have no excuse for missing every single Fringe show… Four of Fringe’s 13 venues are actually on U of T’s campus! That’s like 1/3 of the shows at Fringe (if you’re not great at math…). You can go check out a show this weekend at George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place), at St. Vladimir’s Theatre (620 Spadina Avenue), Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse (79A St. George St) and Robert Gill Theatre (214 College Street, 3rd floor). And this brings me too:
Emily the Blogger’s Guide to Fringe Fest 2011
(In which I do all the work for you, and pick out the best-reviewed plays, musicals and dance performances of the festival for your viewing pleasure.)
George Ignatieff Theatre
Living With Henry
Jul 17 at 5:15pm. A chamber musical that explores the reality of living with AIDS in 2011.
Everything in Moderation
Jul 16 at 9:45pm. Two different dance performances explore the notion of conflict and strength.
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse
Can You Believe?
Jul 15 at 6:15pm; Jul 16 at 1:45pm
An exploration of what would happen if the guy who wrote The Book of Revelations decided to show up in Toronto for an interview on a public access talk show.
Misprint (1st Issue)
Jul 15 at 3:30pm; Jul 17 at 7:30pm
If you’ve ever wondered what the day-to-day life of a 1960’s comic book character was, than this musical will be just up your alley. (I know there’s got to be at least one of you out there!)
Robert Gill Theatre
Bursting Into Flames
Jul 15 at 11:30pm. A comedy and a one man show, Martin Dockery tells the audience all about the perks of being dead.(Apparently there are a few?)
Jul 15 at 6:15pm; Jul 16 at 1:45pm. So a pair of Soviet soldiers are guarding Lenin’s embalmed corpse on a train ride until they get trapped in a boxcar. Hilarity and shenanigans ensue, in what is being billed as an “absurdist” comedy.
St. Vladimir’s Theatre
Jul 15 at 9:45 pm; Jul 17 at 2:45 pm. A comedy about a guy who is obsessed with raccoons. It’s sounds just quirky enough to be charming.
Jul 16 at 3:30 pm. A look at some of the more ridiculous reactions to Orson Welles’ infamous The War of the Worlds broadcast. The show promises “audience interaction” which in my experience always proves to be awkwardly hilarious.